Throughout the year, Washington has been steadily expanding its sanctions regime against Iran, with the latest package coming into full force at the beginning of November. Although it does not aimed directly at the oil and gas industry of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there’s no doubt that this package will have a massive negative impact on its economy. So far, Tehran has been patching holes in its budget with oil and gas revenues, and as the number of such holes start to multiply under the massive US pressure, while its hydrocarbon revenues plummet, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that something has got to give.
It’s crystal clear that the ultimate goal that the West is allegedly going after is putting an end to Iran’s hydrocarbon exports, but this goal is simply unattainable. The Trump administration is fully aware of this fact, and yet it carries on its rhetorics against Tehran. Even those of its partners that have always been described as pro-Western, such as Japan and South Korea are now infuriated by the fact that they had to suspend contracts with a time-tested and reliable supplier of oil. This resulted in Washington making exceptions in its sanctions regime to provide temporary relief to those countries that cannot survive without Iranian oil without facing a major financial crisis.
However, the situation is drastically different from what one could observe back in 2015, when a large number of international players decided to turn their backs on Iran over a number of fundamental difference they had with Tehran over the content of its nuclear program. These days there’s no coalition to support Washington, as a matter of fact Brussels has recently announced its intention of creating a special financial vehicle that will allow European businesses to bypass American sanctions. Thus, instead of leading by example Washington has put itself in an international isolation.
If anyone is still amazed by Washington’s detachment from its principal allies across the globe and their national interest, one shouldn’t really be all that surprised. As the Trump administration is in no way pursuing a secret master plan that will allow the US to regain its status of the last geopolitical hegemony, instead it’s following the orders of an outside force. And don’t rush to the conclusion that it’s Russia that is pulling the strings, as Israel has been demanding Washington to bring Tehran down by all means possible for years now. Curiously enough, just recently Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman has thanked Washington for casting a major blow to Iran’s presence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and the Gaza Strip.
This is but a part of a secret agreement that was signed by Washington and Tel Aviv last November that resulted in the US adopting the goal of containing Iran as its primary goal in the region. Back then an Israeli delegation full of high-profile military officials was led by the national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat had a meeting with the American counterpart of the latter, Herbert Raymond McMaster. These facts were revealed by the 10th Israeli TV-station at the end of December 2017.
After two days of negotiations, a memorandum of understanding of the nature of the Iranian challenge was signed. The parties agreed to create a total of four working groups aimed at addressing four key issues. The first group was tasked with using behind-the-scenes and diplomatic means to derail Tehran’s nuclear program. The second was to try and limit Iran’s presence in the region, particularly in Syria and Lebanon, while the third one was going to go after Iran’s ballistic program. Finally, the final one was required to intensify conflicts within the region, while making sure that Iran would get itself engaged in every single one of those.
That is why, in a bid to facilitate the work of the first Group, Trump announced Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the deal on Iran’s nuclear program last May.
The second group was behind staging the largest international military games in the region to date – the Arab Shield 1 launched in Egypt on November 3rd. These games can be regarded as an initial stage of preparations for the creation of the so-called Arab NATO, that is going to be as anti-Iran as it could possibly get. As it’s been reported by Reuters, it was the Trump administration that was pushing the countries of the Persian Gulf, together with Egypt and Jordan towards the concept of such an alliance.
Against this backdrop it is noteworthy that Barack Obama would try to take a softer stance on Iran, as he refused to encourage Israel to pursue a direct military confrontation with Tehran, while trying to establish ties with Iran by lifting the sanctions regime. Now the Trump administration is going in the opposite direction, as the Israeli lobby managed to transform the land of the brave into a bully for hire. Today it is doing everything to replace America’s national interests in the Middle East with those pursued by the Jewish state.
However, there’s hardly a secret that Washington could hardly achieve anything by pursuing this policy, as it only getting Tehran increasingly more alienated from the United States. This can only result in Iran residing to asymmetrical measures – the tough stance of Washington on anti-Iranian sanctions will be answered by Tehran’s steady improvement of its military capabilities, capable of exploiting the weaknesses of the US-built security system. This will result in a majority of regional players getting pulled in the chaos of an all-out confrontation.
This detail is evidenced by the fact that a number of major European businesses is leaving Iran in spite of the attempts made by Brussels to preserve the Iranian nuclear deal intact. Such companies as Maersk, Peugeot, Renault, Siemens are already out of the door. When big money choose to go somewhere else it’s usually a solid indicator of a brewing military escalation, that could mean troubled days for both Israel, Iran and the better part of other regional players.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”